Macedonian parliament ratifies name change to North Macedonia before Greece's final call

Deputies agree historic name change for Macedonia

Deputies agree historic name change for Macedonia

Macedonia's parliament has approved changing the country's name to North Macedonia, appeasing Greece and bringing the country one step closer to membership in NATO.

Greece has a province called Macedonia and long demanded Skopje change its country's name to remove what Athens considered to be an implied claim to Greek sovereign territory.

Meanwhile, ahead of the vote in Athens, two news websites alleged that a prominent member of Greece's main opposition New Democracy party - which rejects the name deal - called on its members to phone lawmakers of the ANEL party and urge them to vote against the agreement.

Delays had marked the October vote that launched the procedure to change the constitution, also with a two-thirds majority.

Macedonian Prime Minister Zoran Zaev (R) welcomes Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras on the shore of Lake Prespa near Otesevo.

Macedonian deputies voted Friday to change the country's name to "the Republic of North Macedonia", settling a decades-long row with Greece and paving the way to NATO and European Union membership. In Macedonian, the name is Severna Makedonija.

Stoltenberg said in a tweet Friday that the agreement is "an important contribution to a stable and prosperous region".

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In the latter capacity, he brokered a so-called interim deal whereby Greece dropped its embargo on Macedonia in exchange for the latter's modifying its flag, which included a symbol found in the grave of Philip II, ruler of the ancient Greek kingdom of Macedonia and father of Alexander the Great.

European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said the bloc strongly supports the deal and "remains firmly committed to continue to fully support and accompany (Macedonia) towards its common strategic goal of European Union integration".

Macedonia's aspirations to European Union and North Atlantic Treaty Organisation ties had been blocked by Greece over the name dispute.

Several hundred people have been protesting outside FYR Macedonia's parliament in recent days.

Kammenos, whose Independent Greeks party props up the government of Alexis Tsipras, has long opposed the accord with neighbouring Macedonia signed by their governments a year ago.

Mickoski told reporters the move Friday to change the country's name to North Macedonia to appease neighboring Greece was made against the desires of the Macedonian people "and is an act of treason".

"The vote on constitutional amendments that changed the name, identity, history and culture was done against the constitution".

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